The last of Canada's troops serving in Afghanistan are back on home soil.
Their arrival in Ottawa Tuesday morning marks the true end of 12 years in the Middle Eastern country.
The 93 troops in desert combats were greeted by a round of applause as they stepped off a military plane at CFB Uplands.
They were immediately folded into hugs; one soldier from Montreal lifted his girlfriend into the air, holding her tightly as their lips met.
It's a moment of joy following months in the field, but it's something Cpl. Patrick Cayer says was worth their efforts.
"We helped a nation that was in chaos," he said. "From when I was there, 2008 and 2009, to now, there's a big difference."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston were among the dignitaries on hand to welcome the soldiers home.
Harper says because of them, the people of Afghanistan are better off today.
"These are your accomplishments, your glory, and sadly, also your sacrifice," he said.
One hundred fifty-eight Canadian soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan; they'll be remembered May 9 in a National Day of Honour.